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Airline industry refuses to be ID card guinea pig

Unions and management unite against gov biometrics

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News emerged today that government plans for a compulsory UK national ID card pilot scheme in the airline industry are deadlocked by industrial and union opposition, casting a blight over the unveiling of the cards' design.

The Financial Times reports this morning that the government's intended rollout of the biometric ID cards among UK citizens - which was to start first among airport workers - is stalled. Both trade unions and industry bodies were adamantly opposed to the plans, and doubtful that the wider UK ID scheme would ever proceed given Conservative pledges to ditch it in the event of winning the next election.

"We do not see the ID scheme bringing any security or business benefits," Roger Wiltshire of the British Air Transport Association told the FT.

"All we see is additional problems and costs."

Robert Siddall of the Airport Operators' Association went further, telling the paper that the ID rollout "is not going anywhere, that's for sure. You cannot run a pilot scheme in a sector where so many ... are opposed."

Apart from air-transport management, it was also clear that unions were equally determined to resist the cards. The TUC has voted against them this month, and the airline pilots' union Balpa threatened a legal challenge if the government tries to make ID cards compulsory for its members.

The Home Office may well succeed in imposing ID cards on resident foreigners; those applying for further leave to remain will start being issued with them from November. However, if the air transport industry is any guide it seems that carding up Brits will prove more difficult. ®

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